What you need to know in 2011

January 6, 2011

This is not just another “top 10” list – this list focuses on the very things you need to know for 2011 as a member of the CPA profession and The Ohio Society of CPAs.

  1. OSCPA is THE top advocate for CPAs in Ohio.
    In 2010, OSCPA took the lead on issues directly impacting the CPA profession and Ohio’s business community and fought overly burdensome and redundant regulations at the state and federal levels on your behalf. In 2011, OSCPA will continue to represent Ohio CPAs on issues such as: 

    State and local government reform
    1099 repeal
    Uncertain tax position disclosure requirements
    Tax preparer regulations

    Municipal tax uniformity
    Federal and state tax conformity

  2. Regulation is going to keep coming – and OSCPA will continue to have your back.
    The year began with the announcement that tax preparer regulations were coming. Soon followed health care reform and financial regulatory reform. And that is just at the federal level. In 2011, expect more to come on the tax preparer regulations as well as a hard look at tax code simplification (a.k.a., reform). At the state level, look for positive change – Gov.-elect Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly are seeking ways to eliminate or change burdensome regulations at all levels, and OSCPA is working with them all to help achieve needed relief.
  3. Ohio state and local governments will see $8 billion worth of change.
    Gov.-elect John Kasich and Lt. Gov.-elect Mary Taylor, CPA, facing an $8 billion shortfall in 2011, have a tough road ahead of them to “skinny-down” state and local bureaucracy.
  4. Opportunities for positive long-term changes.
    Though all Ohioans likely will feel some pain as a result of the budgeting process, times of financial crisis such as Ohio is experiencing can also create opportunities to tackle politically sensitive but needed reforms to “sacred cows.” For well over a year, OSCPA has been sharing specific recommendations on from our Ohio Budget Advisory Task Force how to help our state become not only fiscally stronger but also more attractive for existing and new employers.  We have been working with legislative leaders to identify best practices and needed changes. If you are aware of government pain points keeping Ohio bogged down, send your thoughts to government@ohio-cpa.com. Be sure to identify the specific regulation of concern to you and how to improve it.
  5. 1099 is going to be a hotbed of controversy.
    OSCPA and the business community at-large are going to keep the 1099 issue at the forefront until it is repealed or a much higher threshold is instituted.
  6. IFRS decision needs to be made.
    The SEC previously said it will make a determination on if, and when, to converge U.S. GAAP with IFRS. The United States is between a rock and a hard place. Businesses need more time to prepare for a convergence; however, if the U.S. delays a convergence any longer, our country could lose its seat at the table as far as IFRS decision-making goes.
  7. You need to have a PTIN to file a federal tax return.
    Unless you live under a rock you know that you need a new (or renewed old) PTIN to prepare a federal tax return beginning in 2011. Also, preparers who anticipate filing 100 or more Forms 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ and 1041 during the year must file electronically.
  8. It’s good to be a CPA.
    Accounting ranks as one of the top 50 careers for 2011, according to U.S. News & World Report. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also projects accountant and auditor employment growth of 22% between 2008 and 2018 – adding 279,400 more positions to the 1.29 million already existing jobs.
  9. Separate standards for private companies.
    The answer to the long-debated question “should private companies have separate financial reporting standards?” is yes. Now the Blue Ribbon Panel Standard Setting for Private Companies needs to answer who will set and monitor the standard. FASB? AICPA? New body?
  10. CPAs don’t expect major economic comeback until 2012.
    A slight majority (53%) of respondents to OSCPA’s eighth annual Ohio Business Poll don’t believe the U.S. has begun a sustainable economic recovery in 2010. Generally, they also don’t expect business conditions to return to prerecession levels until after 2012.

Let’s bring this thing full circle – 2011 is most definitely not 2010. The economy is slowly improving and the unemployment rate is slowly declining. But that doesn’t mean 2011 is going to be any less cumbersome when it comes to regulatory activity and government intervention. Following the economic recession, government has been working at a micro-level to “protect consumers” and prevent future economic meltdowns.
OSCPA pledges to:

  1. To keep you updated on the news you need to know to keep your business operating effectively and efficiently.
  2. To be your advocate fighting to promote and protect your interests at the state and federal levels.

Check out these other year-end reviews and predictions for 2011


Happy holidays!

December 25, 2010

 

"This is my wish for you: peace of mind, prosperity through the year, happiness that multiplies, health for you and yours, fun around every corner, energy to chase your dreams, joy to fill your holidays!" ~ D.M. Dellinger


The Tax Foundation – Paying Sales Tax on Cyber Monday Purchases?

November 29, 2010

Ever wonder why some items are taxed and others aren’t when shopping online? The Tax Policy Blog has the latest information for you.

Today is Cyber Monday, when employees return to work from the long holiday and will online shop to the tune of perhaps $1 billion. For some online purchases, consumers will have sales tax added to their bill but for most purchases it will not be. Why?

Mostly it’s about the limit of state powers. Without some restraint by the courts or the federal government, states have an incentive impose their full tax on every transaction connected with it in any way. If I buy something from another state, which is fulfilled by a warehouse in yet another state, with the delivery truck driving through 6 states, what state gets to impose its sales tax on the sale?

via The Tax Foundation – Paying Sales Tax on Cyber Monday Purchases?

While you’re at it, view these safety tips for a successful Cyber Monday and year-round shopping experience from TechieBytes.


Happy Thanksgiving from OSCPA

November 25, 2010


CPA firms working together on the same client? Can it really happen?

August 24, 2010

By Jim Keeslar, Director BCG & Company

The answer to both of these questions is yes. I know since our firm has already done or is currently doing work together with several other CPA firms. We have helped out a sole practitioner whose client needed to go from a compilation to a review and they didn’t perform reviews. We performed the review only and the sole practitioner kept the overall engagement relationship and performed the other services. We have performed ERISA plan audits for clients’ of several firms who perform investment or third party administration services for the plans and, therefore, are not independent regarding the audit. We have performed a pre-issuance review of financial statements for a local firm with a client in a specialized industry that we have experience in.

So it can happen. There just needs to be a high degree of trust between the firms. CPAs in firms are realizing that they just can’t keep up with all of the changes in today’s fast-paced accounting profession. Whether it be tax law or the accounting standards, there is something new that comes out daily. Driven by the global marketplace we now live in, topics like foreign taxes and international accounting standards seem to be very hot right now. Successful firms (or individuals within the firm) specialize in areas such as tax or audit. Most also specialize in industries such as manufacturing or construction. Some even specialize in more specific areas like ERISA audits or IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards). So decisions must be made. Where do I spend my time? What training do I focus on? What resources do we invest in?

There are only so many hours in a day and only so many resources available to service our clients—so we must choose wisely. Sometimes a firm will lose the entire client relationship because they can’t handle one specific aspect of the relationship. Or perhaps a client begins to feel like they have outgrown their current firm. Maybe the firm doesn’t have enough resources to totally serve the client. This doesn’t have to be the case. If you are a sole practitioner or a smaller local firm, team up with someone at a larger local or regional firm that you trust. If you don’t know someone, ask around and begin developing a relationship. It sounds a bit counterintuitive, but it might just save a client relationship someday.


Wash. Sanitize. Repeat.

October 21, 2009

We’ve all heard the message over and over – wash – sanitize – repeat.  That’s the number one step we’re all hearing daily as the best thing to do to avoid the H1N1 virus – more commonly referred to as the swine flu. Seems almost like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Mothers have been saying it for years – sounds like once again your parents were right.

Fear of catching the H1N1 virus has everyone – parents, teachers, businesses and consumers alike – a little on edge as we all search for the perfect recipe to protect ourselves, our families and our businesses.  While surgical masks aren’t part of our daily dressing routine, I have seen some people out in public wearing one of the masks (not sure if they’re protecting themselves from others, or others from them!).

Just as it seems very basic to wash your hands thoroughly after you sneeze or before you eat, there are several other things you can do immediately to help fend off the virus:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home if you are sick until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever (100°F or 37.8°C) or signs of a fever (without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as Tylenol®). Read detailed information about how long to stay away from others.
  • Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.

Need more guidance? There’s an abundance of information out there. One place to start is with a new webinar being offered exclusively to OSCPA members on Oct. 23 – H1N1 Virus Preparedness Planning: What You Need to Know and Do. If you can’t attend the webinar, it will be available in OSCPA’s Online Library the following week and you can listen to it any time. The discussion leaders will walk through what’s real, what’s hype and what you need to know, plus:

  • Key factors to know about the potential impact of H1N1: How will it affect your business?
  • What is H1N1 and what are the risks?
  • Understanding the U.S. Alert stages
  • What You Need to Do
  • Prevention: Actions employers should take NOW
  • Management of employee exposure in the workplace after a confirmed case
  • Developing your outbreak contingency plan strategy

If you want to head out on your own, here are a few places to start your search. These resources from the Centers for Disease Control and the Small Business Association can help you prepare your business and even include “fact sheets” you can print out for your staff, your family and friends.

How many times have you said – it’s better to be safe than sorry? It is, isn’t it?


It’s time to take your client communication off auto pilot

August 12, 2009

By OSCPA member Rick Kavenagh, CPA

Recently I read some alarming facts about how CPAs are viewed by their clients. A recent study of small business owners revealed that 40% of them think that their CPA provides little or no help in making their businesses successful. I also read that 68% of clients who leave their accounting firm do so because they believe their CPA doesn’t care about their business.  These are scary statistics given that the most significant challenge facing CPA firms of all sizes is client retention, according to the AICPA’s 2009 CPA Firm Top Issues Survey.

Reports like these make me wonder if the CPA profession has become complacent in assuming that we will always be the clients’ trusted advisors. There’s a disconnect somewhere. If national surveys show year after year that clients look to us for the quality of our financial advice, why do so many business owners not view their CPAs as a strategic partner in their success?

It may boil down to a simple, but important factor in the relationship — communication.

As a CPA and business advisor, my number one duty is developing relationships with my clients that extend beyond the compliance work.  This is especially important with small businesses, as they often rely on us as a total business solutions provider.

Small businesses are a driving force in our economy. They account for more than 50% of jobs in the private sector, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. What’s more, they are a significant client base for many CPA firms.

With the weight of the economy bearing down on them, CPAs have a responsibility not only to help keep them afloat, but also to help businesses  prosper.

Today, people are looking for ways to stretch their dollars further, and that includes fees for professional service firms. Just doing the work isn’t good enough anymore. Being a proactive partner with your clients — knowing what their hardships are and delivering solutions — strengthens the relationship and opens doors for your firm to provide additional service in other areas.

How do you provide value added service that gets you recognized as a strategic partner?

  • Start by listening. Visit your client and discuss how their business is faring. Find out their pain points.  Identifying solutions for them before they approach you shows you care about their business.
  • Connect them to the right people.  If you have expertise in your firm that can help them address a challenge, great. If not, recommend an outside contact that is best suited for the task. Your clients will remember this and view you as a true advocate for their success.
  • Offer solutions they didn’t know they need. Helping your clients with strategy each year makes good business sense. But as Harvard Business Review writer Jeff Stibel says, “Planning is important; plans aren’t.”In the current economy, businesses need to react faster because change has become the only predictable constant. Small businesses have a leg up in this area because they don’t suffer from as much bureaucratic lag as larger businesses do. They often are more flexible and adept at taking advantage of opportunities that you identify.
  • Be their eyes and ears in the outside world. Monitor legislation that could benefit clients. Pick up the phone or send a quick e-mail to spark conversations even if you aren’t working on an assignment.  The more value you add, the more likely you are to be called to the table for future projects. If you are not reaching out to your clients at least once a month with some communication, someone else will.

Unfortunately, some business owners don’t see the value a CPA brings to their overall business. This can lead to our services being viewed as a price-driven commodity.

It’s time to deactivate auto-pilot and move your client relationships to a higher level.

Show them you are an integral part of their team and you will remain the trusted business advisor they call for advice in good times and in bad.

Rick Kavenagh, CPA is Director, Business Services for Brockman, Coats Gedelian & Co., Akron.

If you’re an OSCPA member who would like to write for our blog, we’d love to hear from you! Send your submissions to Amy Johnson.


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